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As a simple expression of the democratic spirit, it sums up how Uruguayans feel about their homeland. With only 3. Its giant neighbor Brazil, by contrast, has a population of more than million. But the phrase also speaks to a deep respect for the rule of law. The passionate nationalism prevalent elsewhere, often whipped up by populist leaders intent on clinging to power beyond their allotted presidential terms, is refreshingly absent in Uruguay. Perhaps because of this, Uruguay scores perfect 10s on the indexes of civil liberties and electoral process, a feat equaled only by Norway and New Zealand.
During the colonial period, the port of the capital, Montevideo, was a hub for the slave trade in South America. Today, the country has a large Afro-Uruguayan community — about 10 percent of the population is descended from slaves. He loves to talk about playing with the Berlin Philharmonic or with his drum orchestra come carnival time.
But his passion is also aroused by the racism he still sees here. Even though he is a well-known artist in Montevideo, Mr. During the first half of the 20th century, Uruguay was a unique marvel, even more progressive than it is today.
His Uruguay powered through social advances unthinkable elsewhere at the time, including, in , a divorce law that granted a couple a divorce at the sole request of the woman. To say other countries in the region lagged behind would be an understatement. Chile legalized divorce only 12 years ago. This legacy shaped modern-day Uruguay. In , in a landmark move, it became only the second country in Latin America besides Cuba to legalize abortion.
Three years ago, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the sale of marijuana. Uruguayans seem to have a tacit agreement to resolve differences at the voting booth, instead of by packing masses of people into city squares to test the weight of opposing factions, as happens in Argentina.